Sunday Grid Report, 8/28

Arkansas hits game week with a full complement of cornerbacks ready for action. It's a big change from last season and a different scheme to go with that deep position on the depth chart.

After a fully padded dress rehearsal on Saturday, the Hogs went inside and worked only about an hour in shorts and T-shirts with no helmets on Sunday. Houston Nutt liked what he saw in both practices.

"We had a good little walk through today," said Nutt, the UA head coach. "We'll go over some film tonight. It's game week. Here we go."

The Hogs open the season at 6 p.m. Saturday against Missouri State at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. As they will every week during the season, the Hogs will take Monday off as players have their afternoon labs. The NCAA mandates that every team take at least one day off per week during the season. For the last several years, that has been Monday at Arkansas.

Saturday's workout in Reynolds Razorback Stadium was closed to the media. Asked if it was a "good walk through," Nutt said it was anything but a walk through.

"We had on the pads and we got after it," Nutt said. "We didn't tackle to the ground, but we did hit. It was a physical day.

"We did go over a lot of things, a lot of situations, but it was physical. We went over substitutions. We checked ousvels on illegal procedure, lining up and all of those things (with referees). Robert Johnson, Peyton Hillis, De'Arrius Howard, Sam Olajubutu, Pierre Brown all had very good days -- the guys who are the leaders of this team. You'd expect that from them and they had good days."

Sunday's workout was a much lighter workout. The Hogs, with the media allowed to watch every period, went through alignments and plays against a scout team as the defense and offense broke into separate groups during the team segment. The Hogs also polished their special teams.

Nutt was asked about the differences between Peyton Hillis, named the starter at tailback, and the other tailbacks.

"I don't want to go into all of that, but I will say that each of them has a different personality," Nutt said. "As far saying why Peyton will line up first seven yards deep (at tailback), he runs the most physical of the bunch. We we counted up YACs, yards after contact, Peyton had the most. De'Arrius (Howard) missed a lot of (practice) time during the fall."

Nutt said it appeared the freshmen who would play this year are Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Tyrell Graham, Fred Fairchild and Elston Forte. He said the staff was still discussing the possibility of taking the redshirt off of several others, including offensive tackle Jose Valdez.

"The staff will talk about Valdez on Monday," Nutt said. "We will probably have to take the redshirt off of him if he's second team. I'd say probably, yes.

"That doesn't mean some others aren't going to play, too. You look at Marcus Shavers and think that he was one of those that was on the two deep coming in and hasn't done anything to disappoint us, but he's needing some strength in the upper body. Who is to say in another month that he hasn't helped himself there and he needs to play. I would say some of the others still might play.

"Things change as you go through a season. You just don't know the time line for each player and what happens at their position. And, we know our freshmen are going to lift four days a week now and I suspect Marcus will be a different player in the upper body in another few weeks. We may still need him or some others."

One of the deepest positions heading into the season opener is cornerback where assistant coach Bobby Allen sees a complete flip flop from this time last year when the Hogs were still trying to find two consistent starters. Now, there is competition on a daily basis for playing time.

"Completely different is right," Allen said. "We were young and inexperienced at that position last year. We didn't even know who were our best players quite yet this time last year. We had to play a couple of games just to find that out. They just had such limited experience.

"We are deep enough this year that we could move Matterral Richardson (to free safety). I'm very excited about this group. We are still young except for Darius (Vinnett). But we have a lot more experience."

John Johnson and Michael Coe have been the big surprises of fall camp, stepping forward to earn a spot in the rotation at cornerback. Allen said he's been pleased with the progress of Michael Grant and Chris Houston late last week.

"We were beat up for awhile at corner, but Vinnett's knees are good now and he was full speed today," Allen said. "Grant's hand is good now. Jamar Love had a hand injury, but he's fine now. And, Houston's hip (injury) is good now, too. I think all of them are available."

How many will play?

"The weather may determine that," Allen said. "If it's hot, we may have to rotate guys. But who knows? It may come off cooler and the top group plays most of it. We are in a situation where we can play a lot of folks with the way we've practiced."

Allen said the corners have practiced much better this fall than they did in spring drills when they were feeling their way along with Reggie Herring's new defensive scheme which relies heavily on press coverage from the cornerbacks.

"We had some guys who weren't comfortable with it in the spring," Allen said. "And we had some others who just weren't comfortable with their technique and the scheme.

"But you can tell that some of the guys really put in a great summer with their technique. They came back with more confidence and are comfortable with what we are doing.

"You had a guy like John Johnson who moved to corner in the spring. I had always watched him in the offseason drills and thought he was a guy that tested well and looked good in all the agility and running drills. He timed and measured like one of our best and had the change of direction and was one of our top athletes. I had always wanted him at corner.

"I just thought when we changed schemes that he should be a corner. I wanted him and it turned out that he moved to corner. I thought he should be what we want there.

"For whatever reason, it didn't work out great in the spring. I think part of it was learning a new spot. Part of it was that he let some off-the-field things distract him at practice. But he started to figure it out as the last week of spring ended. You saw glimpses of what he could be. Then, he had a great summer working on his technique. He promised us that he would be a different player this fall and he's been very good.

"Then, you have Coe, another one having a great camp. He was such a tall corner, we had to evaluate his footwork and pad level. For each one, it might be something different. It's not a set formula. It could be something else for one of the others. We got him changed and he's gotten comfortable with the technique and the scheme, too."

Some of it is trusting the technique and scheme in the press coverage.

"They all were afraid of getting beat deep when we first got into it last spring," Allen said. "We are handling it pretty well now. We were playing it too soft because they didn't trust where the help was going to come from and the didn't trust the technique. Now they are confident in our scheme and our ability to play it. You can see things change in the way they play the press coverage now this fall.

"You can see things coming together. Uusally, that's when they play with their eyes right, their feet right and their technique right. That's when we've been very good in our press coverage."

Here's the Hogs' depth chart for the opener:

Arkansas Depth Chart – Missouri State Game

85 - Marcus Monk, 6-6, 227, SO
28 - Chris Baker, 6-1, 198, JR OR
81 - David Thompson, 6-2, 190, JR

66 - Tony Ugoh, 6-5, 314, JR
78 - Jose Valdez, 6-6, 305, FR

74 - Stephen Parker, 6-4, 314, JR
60 - Chase Pressley, 6-4, 310, JR

70 - Kyle Roper, 6-3, 291, SR
63 - Jonathan Luigs, 6-4, 301, FR

63 - Jonathan Luigs, 6-4, 301, FR OR
68 - Tyler Morgan, 6-6, 296, JR

61 - Robert Felton, 6-4, 313, SO OR
75 - Nate Garner, 6-6, 315, SO

80 - Mason Templeton, 6-7, 258, SO OR
88 - Marc Winston, 6-5, 260, FR
83 - Lance Thompson, 6-4, 245, FR

10 - Cedric Washington, 6-0, 200, JR
6 - Cedric Logan, 6-0, 190, SO
2 - Reggie Fish, 5-7, 154, FR

18 - Robert Johnson, 6-2, 212, SO
7 - Alex Mortensen, 6-2, 212, FR
13 - Cole Barthel, 6-2, 205, FR

22 - Peyton Hillis, 6-2, 240, SO
26 - De'Arrius Howard, 6-0, 236, SR
25 - Felix Jones, 6-0, 195, FR OR
5 - Darren McFadden, 6-2, 210, FR

47 - Brandon Kennedy, 5-11, 246, SR
29 - Kyle Dickerson, 5-9, 204, SR
33 - Farod Jackson, 6-0, 226, SO

1 - Dedrick Poole, 5-10, 193, SR

*Fullback or H-Back could start depending on offensive formation

23 - Desmond Sims, 6-3, 228, JR
92 - Jamaal Anderson, 6-6, 262, SO

55 - Marcus Harrison, 6-3, 300, SO OR
99 - Keith Jackson, 6-0, 285, JR OR
98 - Cord Gray, 6-2, 270, FR

95 - Fred Bledsoe, 6-3, 320, SO OR
97 - Jeremy Harrell, 6-2, 282, JR OR
90 - Ernest Mitchell, 6-2, 290, FR

91 - Anthony Brown, 6-6, 223, JR
94 - Zach Snider, 6-3, 240, FR

24 - Sam Olajubutu, 5-9, 227, JR
15 - Tyrell Graham, 6-3, 223, FR
37 - Michael Robinson, 6-2, 230, SR
30 - Weston Dacus, 6-2, 230, SO
46 - Clarke Moore, 6-2, 245, SR

27 - Pierre Brown, 6-0, 227, SR
44 - Freddie Fairchild, 6-2, 215, FR

19 - Michael Coe, 6-1, 186, JR
8 - Michael Grant, 5-11, 185, SO
43 - Dallas Washington, 6-0, 210, SO

31 - Vickiel Vaughn, 6-0, 204, SR
34 - Desmond Williams, 6-2, 217, FR OR
3 - Kevin Woods, 5-10, 197, SO

16 - Matterral Richardson, 6-0, 195, SO
6 - Randy Kelly, 6-0, 188, JR
38 - Elston Forte, 6-1, 185, FR

4 - Darius Vinnett, 5-9, 170, SR
20 - John Johnson, 5-10, 197, SO OR
2 - Chris Houston, 5-11, 180, SO
32 - Jamar Love, 6-1, 211, FR

52 - Brian Vavra, 5-11, 175, FR

55 - Chris Balseiro, 6-1, 215, SR
59 - Stephen Arnold, 6-0, 186, FR
50 - Jeremy Davis, 5-9, 195, SO

14 - Jacob Skinner, 6-3, 212, JR
50 - Jeremy Davis, 5-9, 195, SO

51 - Brett Goode, 6-1, 229, JR

14 - Jacob Skinner, 6-3, 212, JR

22 - Peyton Hillis, 6-2, 240, SO
25 - Felix Jones, 6-0, 195, FR
5 - Darren McFadden, 6-2, 210, FR
10 - Cedric Washington, 6-0, 200, JR

19 - Michael Coe, 6-1, 186, JR
22 - Peyton Hillis, 6-2, 240, SO

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